Dear Those Who “Don’t Have Time” for Exercise,
It’s no breaking news that exercise is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. However, despite much of the population knowing that the benefits of exercise range from decreases in depression and anxiety, to improved cognition, to weight loss, to a decreased risk of chronic illness (1), over 75% of Americans do not get the recommended amount of exercise (2).
As a strength and conditioning coach, I’m passionate about exercise. Despite my love and appreciation for training and moving my body, combined with four years of learning the importance of exercise in my undergraduate program, I still struggle with not wanting to exercise. So, what’s the deal here?
There are many different reasons why people don’t engage in a regular exercise routine. Instead of calling these “excuses”, we like to call them “barriers” because they are often valid reasons, but as exercise professionals, we help problem solve and develop ways over or around them. Here are some barriers I’ve either told myself or heard from friends, family, and clients.
“I have no time”
This is probably the most common barrier I hear. While it often feels like there are no extra hours in the day, I love to challenge my clients to one task: track what you do in every 15-minute block of the day. Include driving, eating, cooking, working, watching TV, scrolling on your phone, sleeping, and more. When you break down the day, you’ll notice there are large gaps of time that are not as occupied as you may think. These are great blocks of time to throw in short 10-15 minute bursts of exercise. Even better, try to group those “dead hours” together for a full workout session! If you find there’s a day when there truly are no free periods of time, try to increase your movement throughout the day. Park in the back of the parking lot, take the stairs instead of the elevator, perform 10 chair squats every time you get up from your seat. Soon enough, you’ll notice, you DO have enough time. Exercise just needs to be bumped to the top of the priority list.
Check out the image below for a template to track a day in your life. Try to choose a “normal” day, but if no days feel normal, try keeping a record of a few days to observe any trends. Some activities that may seem to make exercise impossible, can actually be an avenue for more physical activity. For example, if you need to drive your kids to soccer practice, walk laps around the field while they practice.
“I don’t know what to do!”
If you’re new to exercise, there is no shame in feeling lost when it comes to fitness! Everyone needs to start somewhere. If this is your barrier, I recommend finding a personal trainer who will help you reach your goals. Here at Olympia, we have certified strength and conditioning coaches who specialize in helping you reach your fitness goal, whether it’s weight loss, increasing speed, gaining strength, or improving confidence. We have options for every budget and training style. The best part of it all, is you are NEVER left alone to wander in the gym. Group classes are small and instructed, while personal training sessions provide even more personalized assistance. There is no shame in asking for help at any stage of your exercise career. We are here to help whenever you need us! Once you walk through our front door, your goals become our goals, and we will do whatever we can to help you achieve them!
“Exercise is boring”
If this is your biggest barrier to exercise, I hate to break it to you, but you might be doing it all wrong! Exercise should be fun, exciting, and rewarding! There’s no rule that says exercise must hurt in the moment or leave you aching for days. Exercise is simply body movement with intention. At Olympia, we try to make it fun for you, especially in our group fitness classes. We hold classes three times a day and every single class is different. We get you exercising with partners, in groups, or solo and rotating through stations. Last week I had a client say, “Class is already over? No way it has been an hour!” You know what they say, “time flies when you’re having fun”. I take that to heart. Group exercise is a great way to ensure that you leave the gym in a better mood than when you came in.
I wrote a previous blog post that listed drills I use to keep youth athletes engaged in their program. Not only are those great for kids, but I have used all of those games with my adults in class. Playing games is a great way to move your body and have a great time. The best way to overcome this barrier is to find an activity so enjoyable that you forget it’s technically “exercise”, whether it’s dancing, hiking, skiing, or playing a recreational sport. Your body doesn’t know the difference between going on a 60-minute run and having an hour-long dance party!
- “Benefits of Physical Activity.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 Apr. 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm.
- Blackwell DL, Clarke TC. State variation in meeting the 2008 federal guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities through leisure-time physical activity among adults aged 18-64: United States 2010-2015. National Health Statistics Reports; no 112. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr112.pdf
- “How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7 Oct. 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm
Katie Usher is a new addition to the strength and conditioning team at Olympia Fitness and Performance. She recently graduated from the University of Rhode Island with degrees in Kinesiology and Psychology. While interning at Olympia, she found a love for helping athletes and general fitness clients push themselves to new levels in the gym, on the field, and in life. She is excited to continue setting clients on a path that allows them reach their goals.